flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

A Massachusetts college now features the largest zero-net-energy academic building in Northeast

Energy Efficiency

A Massachusetts college now features the largest zero-net-energy academic building in Northeast

Bristol Community College wants to be carbon neutral by 2050.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | December 13, 2016

The 50,600-sf John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building is highlighted by an atrium that connects labs and serves as a “learning commons.” Achieving zero-net-energy in this building did not impact its $31.5 million construction budget. Image: Courtesy of Bond

The John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building, which opened last fall on the Fall River, Mass., campus of Bristol Community College (BCC), claims to be the largest zero net energy (ZNE) classroom and science lab building in the Northeast.

The 50,600-sf building, whose construction cost was $31.5 million, consists of two occupied floors and a mechanical penthouse. Its  teaching laboratories, community spaces and interactive classrooms, are joined by a shared atrium that serves as a “learning commons” and student living room.

The Building Team on this project included the civil engineering and construction firm Bond (GC), Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers (engineer), and Sasaki Associates (architect).

To achieve zero net energy goals in a facility with a large amount of energy consuming lab space, the design incorporates a large solar array field over the adjacent parking lot that works in tandem with a PV array on the roof of the building. The new facility is projected to use less than 20% of the new array and no fossil fuels for heating and cooling. 

The Building Team also installed geothermal wells 500 feet below ground level that feed a ground source heat pump. This was coupled with an air source heat pump to provide heating and cooling to the building. In addition, 12 of the building’s 16 fume hoods filter and return air to the space, rather than exhausting it out into the atmosphere. 

Significantly, the ZNE design was achieved without increasing the budget. The building will serve as an important benchmark for future campus development and a model for other institutions.

“We are especially proud of this new building for BCC, which has already received several awards for its innovative approach to sustainable construction,” said Robert Murray, Bond’s President. “It’s one of the first ZNE science laboratory buildings built in the Northeast and well equipped for the ever-changing needs of the college’s health and science curriculum.”

BCC, which was chartered in 1965, is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the Northeast. The school offers more than 150 programs that include nursing, dental hygiene, biotechnology, microbiology, chemistry, and biology. The Health and Science Building—named after BCC’s president of 16 years, John J. Sbrega, who is retiring next August—brings much-needed new space to the burgeoning campus. It is LEED Platinum certified, and can be seen as a starting point for the college’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

On its website, Bond notes that one of this project’s challenges was the installation of three prefabricated mechanical room pieces, each 10 to 15 tons, that needed to be rigged through the structure, and placed during ongoing construction. Offsite commissioning, including control testing, allowed for plug and play of the mechanical room as well as critical control sequences. 

Related Stories

Sustainability | Nov 1, 2023

Researchers create building air leakage detection system using a camera in real time

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a system that uses a camera to detect air leakage from buildings in real time.

Hotel Facilities | Sep 15, 2023

The next phase of sustainability in luxury hotels

The luxury hotel market has seen an increase in green-minded guests looking for opportunities to support businesses that are conscientious of the environment.

Metals | Sep 11, 2023

Best practices guide for air leakage testing for metal building systems released

The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) released a new guidebook, Metal Building Systems - Best Practices to Comply with Whole-Building Air Leakage Testing Requirements.

Regulations | Aug 23, 2023

Gas industry drops legal challenge to heat pump requirement in Washington building code

Gas and construction industry groups recently moved to dismiss a lawsuit they had filed to block new Washington state building codes that require heat pumps in new residential and commercial construction. The lawsuit contended that the codes harm the industry groups’ business, interfere with consumer energy choice, and don’t comply with federal law. 

Green | Aug 7, 2023

Rooftop photovoltaic panels credited with propelling solar energy output to record high

Solar provided a record-high 7.3% of U.S. electrical generation in May, “driven in large part by growth in ‘estimated’ small-scale (e.g., rooftop) solar PV whose output increased by 25.6% and accounted for nearly a third (31.9%) of total solar production,” according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Resiliency | Aug 7, 2023

Creative ways cities are seeking to beat urban heat gain

As temperatures in many areas hit record highs this summer, cities around the world are turning to creative solutions to cope with the heat. Here are several creative ways cities are seeking to beat urban heat gain.

Government Buildings | Aug 7, 2023

Nearly $1 billion earmarked for energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced plans to use $975 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding for energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades to federal buildings across the country. The investment will impact about 40 million sf, or about 20% of GSA’s federal buildings portfolio.

Codes and Standards | Aug 7, 2023

Cambridge, Mass., requires net-zero emissions for some large buildings by 2035

The City of Cambridge, Mass., recently mandated that all non-residential buildings—including existing structures—larger than 100,000 sf meet a net-zero emissions requirement by 2035.

Modular Building | Jul 6, 2023

Lennar, Mastry Ventures make multi-million dollar investment in net-zero prefab homes

Mastry Ventures and LENx, the venture arm of homebuilder Lennar, have co-invested in Vessel Technologies’ next-generation housing product.

Apartments | Jun 27, 2023

Dallas high-rise multifamily tower is first in state to receive WELL Gold certification

HALL Arts Residences, 28-story luxury residential high-rise in the Dallas Arts District, recently became the first high-rise multifamily tower in Texas to receive WELL Gold Certification, a designation issued by the International WELL Building Institute. The HKS-designed condominium tower was designed with numerous wellness details.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021